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What is Greek Tragedy?

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What is Greek Tragedy? Greek tragedy is a very vast but strict category, which is detailed in the structure, character type, speech, thought, display and song. Through the ages, it has been varied and rules have been broken, however there still remains the basic format. Generally a tragedy is defined as a literary composition written and performed by actors, in which there is a tragic theme, often involving a heroic struggle and the downfall of the main character. It is generally a form of action rather than narrative, which brings out emotions of pity and fear among the audience. The great writers of Greek Tragedy included Sophocles, Aeschylus and Euripicles. The protagonist of a Greek Tragedy is a character of nobility, who has a higher social status in the society he is situated in. At the beginning the character should be content and prosperous and by the end, he will be ruined and thrown into misery. ...read more.


A Greek Tragedy is usually interspersed with songs sung or words spoken by the actors and the chorus. There can also be dancing among the Chorus. During Sophocles era, a tragic play had a chorus, which consisted of about fifteen men who were arranged in a rectangular form. As more tragedies were created, the chorus held less importance. They engaged in dialogue with the characters, retelling parts of the story and at times, giving wisdom and moral comments to the main characters. They are included to contribute to the harmony of the plot. The antagonist plays a small part in a Greek Tragedy, as it the protagonist's flaw that causes his or hers downfall. In Oedipus Rex, the antagonist is Creon who is a contrasting character to Oedipus. Creon is more business-like and authoritive than Oedipus. Creon is also the only character who could be threatening to Oedipus's throne. ...read more.


This is one of the results of a Greek Tragedy, however it has a logical result and in the end, Oedipus has accepted his fate. Other characteristics of the structure are how the scenes of dialogue intersperse with the chorus's songs or speeches. A lot of Greek tragedy plays begin with an opening scene of monologue, which acts as a prologue. A structure of a typical tragedy consists of a: * Prologue * Entrance song * First episode * First chorus speech/song * Second episode * Second chorus speech/song * Third episode * Third chorus speech/song * Fourth episode * Fourth chorus speech/song * Exodos - final scene of dialogue The writer must also not change the legend he is using to write from. However, he must use his creativity and skill to create a work that is his alone. The use of dramatic irony is common in Greek Tragedies as well. The following example is taken from Oedipus Rex. 'Their plight concerns me now, more than me life'. ...read more.

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